Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Thursday circulated an email to supporters asking for cash to stave off interloping efforts by a new Karl Rove-backed group in Iowa's U.S. Senate race next year.
A report in the New York Times on Sunday indicated that King could be in the crosshairs of Rove's new group, the “Conservative Victory Project,” which will seek to avoid some of the self-inflicted mistakes made by Republicans in the previous two cycles by putting forward more electable candidates. A pair of polls released this week showed that King, who has not yet announced if he will run in the 2014 race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), is the overwhelming favorite of the ultra-conservative Iowa GOP.
“I have not made a decision on this matter, but already Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me,” King wrote, according to Politico. "They said I couldn’t win in 2012 — the entire political machine was against me — but I soundly defeated my opponent by 8 percentage points. So let me be clear. Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.”
The story in the Times set off an intra-party quarrel this week between Rove and the tea party wing of the party. A column by conservative firebrand Brent Bozell fired back at Rove's "shamelessly" named group. Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks, issued a statement on Tuesday saying the launch of Rove's organization showed that the "empire is striking back" against conservative candidates. Rove, for his part, insisted during an appearance on Fox News that he doesn't want a fight with the tea party.